Butterfly Cauldron

Friday, February 13, 2009

Babies, death threats and shutting the frak up.

I haven't said anything here about the woman who gave birth to the octuplets a few weeks ago, because well. . .here's the thing: I would never, ever have 8 babies at once. I just wouldn't. That's basically my idea of hell. However, because I am adamantly pro-choice I have to support a woman's right to do with her body as she wishes. And if that means she wants to give birth to 8 babies at once, despite the risks to her health, to their health, to her family's economic future, well. . .it IS her body. Once those babies were conceived, should she have been forced to selectively abort? Who decides that? And if we let the government make that decision, what's to stop the government from deciding that any woman has to abort any particular pregnancy because, I don't know, we have enough Asian women now, thanks. Or we have too many black males? Or we don't want to increase our Down's Syndrome population? Oh! Tests show this child will be born deaf and well, we can't have that. You must abort. If you give the government a say in which children are born, then what's to stop them from deciding who MUST have children? What if the government decides that we need more white people? (And, given the anti-immigrant vibe from a lot of people, that's not exactly out of the realm of possiblity. All those dirty brown people, mucking up our pure white country! We need more white babies. Get to breeding!) What is to stop the government from forcing any given woman to have a baby? It's not that big a step from saying you must not have these babies to you must have these instead. (And no, I don't believe such a thing would happen overnight. However, setting the precedent and changing the cultural atmosphere so that it become acceptable for the government to have an active involvement in personal reproduction could certainly lead to such changes in the longrun. Once you accept that the government can limit how many children a woman can give birth to at one time, you are primed to accept the government's rights to control reproduction in other ways.)

So, that said: I understand that people are upset over the fact that a single mother used fertility treatments to conceive these children. I don't know why this event surprises them -- single women get fertility treatments all the time, the odds of a single woman conceiving octos is just as good as a married woman, it's not like nature checks for a marriage license. And I understand that people are upset that she's receiving some forms of government help to support her family. (A least one of her children has autism and two others apparently have some form of disability for which the government is providing subsidies. Frankly, I don't know why people have a problem with that. If the children need the help, the children should get the help, regardless of who their parents are and how they were born. They didn't exactly ask for this, ya know.) And she's apparently getting some form of food stamps, which is, again, quite reasonable. Again, this help is for her children. They did not ask to be born into this situation. They need food, they need medical care. It would be preferable if their family could provide that without government help, but if the family cannot, do they deserve to starve? Do they deserve to suffer due to treatable medical conditions because their family has no insurance? If a portion of your tax dollars go to make sure these children have food to eat and can get their ear infections treated, is that a bad use of the money? Is it a better or worse use of the money that funding an unending war? Is it a better or worse use of your money than building a Bridge to Nowhere?

So, I get that people may be upset. What I find fascinating is that most of those people would not be upset if she were married. (And for all we know, she does have an unmarried partner. Maybe she's got a boyfriend. Or maybe she's got a girlfriend. Or maybe she's got both. We don't know that she's doing this alone for certain.) Other families, like the Duggars and those people on John and Kate Plus 8 have really large families and people seem quite accepting of them. But if a woman is single? Well. . .

What I do not understand, however, are certain people's need to make fraking DEATH THREATS against this woman. What's wrong with you people? Because it'll be so much better for those children to grow up without a mother. Because it'll be soo much easier on their grandparents to raise them alone. Because putting all those children into the system will save sooo much tax money. Please people, grow up. This woman didn't do anything illegal, but the people threatening to kill her or her children certainly did. I hope they are caught and punished. You don't threaten to kill a woman because you disagree with her choices. (And, btw, if we were talking about a man who had fathered 14 children would we be having this discussion? No. No, we would not. There are plenty of men out there who have fathered 14 or more children and left those children to be raised by single mothers, often mothers that have to rely on public support for at least part of the time, and they don't get put in the spotlight. They don't get death threats. They don't even get forced to pay frakking child support. So stop with the sexism. It pisses me off.)

Further, please note that this woman is not lazing about the house doing nothing. She's in school, working on a graduate degree. Yes, she is relying on some forms of government assistance at the moment. However, once she graduates and finds work, she will once more be paying into the system and she will be supporting her children. She is not a so-called 'welfare queen'. Sometimes, people need help. My grandmother did, when she left my grandfather while pregnant with her fifth child. (He was pretty much a bastard and she needed to go.) She was on welfare and food stamps and any other government help she could get for a few years while she raised her children and got training to be a nurse's aid. Then she got a job, paid her taxes and raised her children. All of whom grew up to be good, decent people who went to school, got training and decent jobs and paid into the system. Her grandchildren, those of us who are adults, have also gone to college, gotten jobs and paid into the system. That's how the system works. Just because you're born into a large family that happens to be poor doesn't mean you're going to be a drain on society. My grandmother's children grew up to be nurses and teachers and electricians and even one pretty high ranking federal agent. Both her adult grandchildren have gone on to earn MAs and work in state government -- one of us making sure other people find money to go to college and the other making sure abused/neglected children get placed in loving, safe homes. So all you people saying these children are doomed and lost causes? Shut the fuck up. Now.
posted by Zan at 9:32 AM


I am so ambivalent about this. The timing and quantity seem really irresponsible to me. However, like you, I don't want to see the Birth Police arise from this or anything else. And the death threats are completely out of line.

Interesting perspective, and not one seen very often right now.

7:36 PM  

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